Last year I ran the Brooklyn half marathon with my husband and felt so accomplished that I took a break from running regularly for about a year. I believe that life has ebbs and flows and you can't do everything all the time. I spent more time sitting, studying, and writing and less time moving around on my feet.
Because of that, I actually changed the way I walk. Can you believe that? My weight had shifted back into my heels from what I had corrected the previous year. Our bodies are so receptive to the positions we hold them in and they also remember the muscles that we most often use and forget the others unless we target them. Once you stop using a muscle for 24 hours, the atrophy process begins. 24 HOURS! That's like a single hair on your head; you don't notice it when it's not there.
Now I'm not saying that you should use every muscle in your body everyday because you will exhaust yourself and have no time for this fabulous life of yours. I am suggesting that you strengthen the muscles that support posture and balance, your intrinsic muscles so that you can eliminate a majority of your pain and move optimally.
So how does walking affect the way you run? Well, it's the same movement, just faster. If you are walking and not activating certain muscles that are meant to support the action, you are brining yourself closer to injury and making yourself work harder. Nobody has time for that. So here's one part of optimal gait that will help you run and cover more space in less time.
Walk through your whole foot (heel, arch, ball, toes) and then push off your toes to propel you forward. Practice this slowly so that you can articulate the different parts of the foot. Also, make sure your weight is evenly distributed between the right and left side of each foot.
Fun fact: You don't need your toes to balance, you only need your toes to push off in gait. A lot of us don't use our toes when we walk. We rotate our toes out to the side and actually use our inner thighs to bring our legs forward. If you turn your toes forward, you can use gluteus maximus and your hamstrings and keep the strain out of your SI joint and your low back.
So if your a runner or you'd like to start, check and see how you walk. Practice working through your feet to take you forward and then take it up a notch and see if it affects your running. Let me know how it goes so we can add this to your treatment and get you moving stronger and longer!